Hal Draper

Who’s Against the War Referendum?

Fascists Agree with Roosevelt

(1 September 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 64, 1 September 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

When the Ludlow resolution for a referendum of the people on the declaration of war was before Congress a year and a half ago, the united front of the American war-mongers thundered their denunciations against it. This united front included both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Who received aid and comfort from this attack on the war referendum idea by these great “democrats” who were against letting the people vote on the most vital issue before them?

The fascists.

The fascists were gleeful as they reported the attacks on the referendum, by Roosevelt, Hull, and their Republican imperialist collaborators like Landon, Hoover and Stimson. They accepted it as an endorsement of the ideology of ... fascism.

Mussolini Sees a Convert

Mussolini’s personal organ, Popolo d’ltalia, in an editorial on December 27, 1937, seized the opportunity to demonstrate that, in really vital matters; the great “democracies” adopt the fascists’ attitude toward democracy:

“Referendums are fine when it is a question of choosing a suitable spot for a town fountain, but when the supreme interests of a people [meaning the bosses and plutocrats – H.D.] are at stake, even the most democratic governments take care not to trust the people’s judgment.”

The Ludlow amendment, continued the Popolo d’ltalia, committed the error of taking democracy seriously, and this explains the opposition of the government and the newspapers.

Nazis Pleased

A couple of weeks later, when the war referendum was pushed off the House agenda and again buried in a subcommittee, the Berliner Tageblatt, one of Goebbels’ battery of loudspeakers, likewise added its approval.

The incident proved, said the Tageblatt, that the United States Government and Congress recognized that democracy does not work, at least when important decisions are to be made. (N.Y. Times, Jan. 12, 1938)

Directly Helped Fascists

The defeat of the war referendum in Congress did not merely serve these fascists as an opportunity for a sneer. They had a more serious purpose.

In Germany, millions of workers realize that Hitler is plotting to use them merely as cannon fodder in a war which he is preparing over their heads. Many of them no doubt blame this on the regime of fascist dictatorship and feel that the restoration of “democracy” in Germany would enable them to control the war steps of the government. Likewise in Italy.

Look, say the fascists to them: even in the democracies, even in the United States, you would have no more to say about the launching of war than you have here. Why complain about fascism when Roosevelt does the same thing? This is the weapon that Roosevelt gave the fascists.

What is the answer?

It is: The fight to LET THE PEOPLE VOTE ON WAR can be successful only if it is waged AGAINST Roosevelt and against the government leaders. These do NOT stand for any kind of real democracy; where now they deny us the right to vote on war, tomorrow when war has been launched over our heads, they will clamp down a full-blown war dictatorship.

The Real Alternative

They are AFRAID of letting the masses of people exercise any real rule. Their job is to safeguard the rule of America’s Sixty Families behind the false front of democratic phrases and forms.

Only a government of the workers, by the workers, anc for the workers is the real alternative to boss dictatorship, open or concealed.

Last updated on 11 March 2016